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ACBC Certification FAQs

Certification: General Questions

What will certification and membership cost?

Are those costs due all at once?

No, they will be due over the course of time. It will depend on how you pace yourself. The first three listed above are part of phase one. The grading fee is due at the end of phase two, and the supervision fee is due during phase three.  The membership due will occur once you have completed all three phases.

Does the certification program have a time limit?

Yes. You must complete Phases 1 and 2 within four years of taking your Fundamentals Training Course. For example, if an individual finishes the Fundamentals Training Course in 2018, they will need to submit their Phase 2 exams by December 31, 2022.

Separately, you have one year to complete 50 sessions of supervised counseling in Phase 3.

How long will the certification process take?

Time varies, depending on how much time you have and how much training you’ve had. Many people complete the certification process within a year after completing the Fundamentals Training Course.

I have prior education/experience in biblical counseling. Is there a fast track to certification for me?

We are thrilled to have people pursue certification who have prior education and experience in counseling, as well as those with no prior education and experience. However, our certification standards require that each applicant must complete all three phases of the ACBC Certification process. Additionally, the Fundamentals Training Course required for ACBC certification must be completed through an ACBC Certified Training Center or other ACBC Certified Training source.

 *If you have taken training through one of our Training Centers (please see list here) in the past, please email We can help clarify how that specific training fits into the certification process.

Can I become certified with ACBC if I am on the Public Sex Offender Registry or am currently incarcerated?

ACBC recognizes that the Lord can use men and women who have repented from past sin and who are walking in faithfulness in a local church for great kingdom work in discipleship and counseling, and we encourage these individuals to receive training and education in the area of biblical counseling. However, ACBC is not able to officially certify anyone who is currently on the Public Sex Offender Registry or currently incarcerated.

Can I become certified if my church has a female pastor?

The local church is indispensable in the ministry of counseling. We believe our counselors must pursue the closest possible connection to their church for accountability and ecclesiastical authority. In light of the importance of ecclesiastical oversight, we require our counselors to serve under biblically qualified leadership in their church. At ACBC, we hold a complementarian view, recognizing that while women may serve the church in a myriad of ways, the Bible requires that an elder/pastor be a man meeting specific qualifications (1 Timothy 2:11-15; 1 Corinthians 11:1-3; 1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-3). Because of these beliefs, both of which are reflected in our guiding documents, we cannot certify an individual who has joined fellowship with a church that has a female given the role or title of elder/pastor, regardless of their oversight responsibilities.

Can I become certified if I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)?

As state governments continue to encroach upon the religious liberties of individuals and groups, ACBC recognizes that this is particularly noticeable within the discipline and practice of counseling. As Christians, we affirm that it is inconsistent to withhold biblical morality and mandates in counseling and soul care, in deference to state statues and codes of ethics which regulate Christian principles and truths. With these concerns in mind, ACBC welcomes those currently holding state licensure for professional counseling to engage in our Phase 1 training, to further discern the philosophical and theological underpinnings that distinguish biblical counseling from other approaches. Since counseling is fundamentally theological in nature, ACBC reserves the right not to approve current Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Mental Health Counselors, or those holding equitable licenses for counseling services, from continuing the certification process due to the growing ethical and moral restrictions placed upon state licensed practitioners. However, those who have completed Phase 1 and wish to continue in progression with ACBC certification may make an appeal for consideration with the ACBC Membership Services department.

Can I share content that I purchased on the ACBC Store with others?

You may share purchased ACBC Store content with family members, counselees, and groups in your church or para-church ministry for educational purposes. If you share the material with others, they are not permitted to share the material again (e.g. if you share the material with your brother, he is not permitted to share the material with his counselees without first purchasing it himself). 

Watching the Fundamentals Training Course via a purchased audio or video recording will not count toward certification. If you show the material in a church or para-church ministry setting, you are required to make a verbal or written statement to those watching the training that it will not lead to certification. 

ACBC Certification Process

Phase 1: General

Why am I getting an error message that says “Invalid Integer” when I try to complete the Contact Details section in the certification dashboard?

That particular error message “Invalid Integer,” means that you have entered text in a box that requires a number only. You might look back through the pages and be sure that you do not have anything like that. The most common error is in the Education page for the Graduation Year, but it could be others as well.

Phase 1: Fundamentals

What if I watched videos that someone else shared with me? Do they count toward the Fundamentals requirement?

Watching the Fundamentals Training Course via a purchased audio or video recording will not count toward certification. If you show the material in a church or para-church ministry setting, you are required to make a verbal or written statement to those watching the training that it will not lead to certification. 

Why am I getting an error when I try to submit my Fundamentals information in the certification dashboard?

There are a few reasons why it might not be working:

  1. if there are any required fields not completed
  2. if the wrong kind of information is entered into a field (i.e. text in a field that requires only a number such as the Year Completed box)
  3. by clicking the close button or off of the screen without hitting save/next/continue
  4. it could be slow to respond when you click on the button (you will need to wait and let it reload before clicking again or navigating away from the page)
  5. not using the Google Chrome browser (Safari, IE, and others do not seem to work as well).  
  6. It might also be helpful to log out and log back in again.

If it is not one of these 6 things, then do you see any error messages pop-up? (if so, please screenshot those and send by email to

Phase 1: Counseling Observation

Is the Counseling Observation requirement measured as 10 hours or 10 sessions?

You must complete at least 10 sessions that add up to at least 10 hours of observed counseling. For example, if you observed 9 sessions that added up to 12 hours, then you are still lacking 1 more session to fulfill this requirement.

 What if I cannot remember specific details that are required on the Observation Log? (i.e., watched videos or did it over time)

You will need to enter each session, name of counselor, and length. There is no exception for DVDs or online videos.

Phase 1: Approved Reading

Can I use audiobooks to fulfill the reading requirement?

Yes, but… The reading is meant to help give you a good biblical counseling and theological foundation, which you will also use to help you work through the exams in Phase 2. Having a physical or e-book copy that you can highlight and look up page numbers in will be helpful since you must footnote any citations you may use in your answers on the exams.

*The audio book for A Theology of Biblical Counseling by Heath Lambert will not fulfill that requirement. That is the only exception.

Can I get a PDF copy of the ACBC Statements and Affirmations that I signed in Phase 1?

We do not have PDFs of our documents available, but you may access them on the main website under About -> Our Beliefs

What if I do not fully agree with the ACBC Standards?

If you cannot in good conscience sign that you are in full agreement with the statements (that is, your beliefs are completely in line with ACBC), then you should not pursue certification. ACBC certifies according to these Standards so that anyone who seeks out one of our counselors, knows exactly what they believe.

Phase 2: Exams

Which exam should I complete first?

We recommend completing the Theology Exam first, and then the Counseling Exam. It is wise to complete the theology exam first. Good theology leads to good counseling.

What will the graders be looking for on the exams?

On the theology exam, the grader will be noting the applicant’s understanding of theological truth in line with ACBC’s Standards and his ability to communicate it clearly. On the counselor’s exam, the grader will be observing how the applicant applies the Scriptures to a variety of counseling issues in line with ACBC’s Standards.

The instructions say that each answer must be between 1-1.5 pages, how important is that?

The graders will send back any exams for rewrites that are too short or too long based on the requirements. The goal is to be sure you are able to explain your answers well enough (at least 1 page) and yet to be able to answer them succinctly (less than 1.5). The graders have 44 – 66 pages to grade based on this range. With this in mind, it is best to stick to the instructions.

What if I disagree with a particular doctrine? (i.e. trichotomy instead of dichotomy, continuationism instead of cessastionism, egalitarianism instead of complementarianism, etc.)

The purpose of the exams is to be sure that the candidate truly believes and practices theology and counseling according to the Standards of Doctrine and Conduct of ACBC. If the essay exam questions reveal a disagreement with ACBC’s standards, opportunity for growth, learning, and coming in line with these standards will be allowed though a chance for rewrite upon grading. However, if the candidate’s beliefs differ from ACBC standards and he or she does not desire to change the positions to be in line with ACBC standards, then ACBC cannot certify that individual. Though we would encourage continued growth and ministry, ACBC is not able to certify anyone outside of the guiding documents.

What are the different grades for the exams?

Your exams are graded on a pass or rewrite basis. If the applicant will need to submit a rewrite our graders will give input to help deepen the candidate’s understanding of the topic. They will be available for further discussion, when necessary. The candidate will be given as many tries as needed, as long as there is evidence that he or she is working hard to continue learning and understanding.

Can I access Phase 2 ahead of time to prepare?

No, you will not be able to access Phase 2 ahead of time. Once you have reached that part of the process you will be given access to all the instructions you need, and forms for you and those who will be filling out the evaluations for you.

I received my rewrites back, but I can’t see my grader’s comments, what should I do?

It could be a couple of things. If you are looking at the files on a mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.), you will not be able to see the comments. You will need to open the files on a laptop or desktop computer in order to see the comments on the right-hand side of the exams. If you are already on a computer, it may be that you need to change your settings to see the Comments. If after trying these things you still do not see the comments, please feel free to email your grader or our office at

I uploaded my rewrites; how do I know if they were received?

When you upload your exams into the dashboard, they are automatically uploaded in our system. You can tell if they have been uploaded from your dashboard. If you are wondering if your grader has started regrading them, then you will need to reach out to him directly. Your grader’s information is listed on your Phase 2 dashboard.

Phase 2: Evaluations

What evaluations will be required in Phase 2?

You will be required to have 3 evaluations submitted on your behalf:

  1. Colleague Evaluation – This is an evaluation of you from someone close to you. It can be a friend, co-worker, ministry partner, etc.
  2. Pastor/Elder Evaluation – This is an evaluation of you from a male Pastor/Elder of the church where you are a member.
  3. Church Membership & Authority Letter – This is a letter from a representative of your church (secretary, Pastor, etc.), on church letterhead and submitted digitally, showing that you are both a member in good standing and under the authority of the church.

How do I access the Evaluations in Phase 2?

You will not be able to have access to the evaluations and grader payment until you have completed and uploaded your exams. Be sure to read the Phase Overview/Instruction and watch the Phase Tutorial in each phase to make sure you know how to complete each item correctly and in the proper order. 

How do I check the status of an evaluation?

To check on the status of your evaluations, you may log in to your dashboard and check the status in the same place where you sent out the requests. If it does not show completed, that means it has not come back clear yet and you will want to follow up with the person you sent it to (may have them check junk/spam mail).  You can also resend the request from there as well, either to the same person/email address or to another person/email address.

Can I access Phase 2 ahead of time to prepare?

No, you will not be able to access Phase 2 ahead of time. Once you have reached that part of the process you will be given access to all the instructions you need, and forms for you and those who will be filling out the evaluations for you.

Phase 3

How will I connect with a supervisor?

Step-by-step instructions are provided in Phase 3. Working from a list of Fellows you will begin to email one at a time asking them to supervise you. You will be able to reach out to them through the contact information provided. Once you have connected and communicated with your supervisor through the proper steps you may begin working on those hours!

How will I connect with counselees?

While we can’t give you any specifics because every context is different, we know that some have gone to some creative lengths to reach out for counselees. Some have posted on facebook that they are working on become a certified counselor and that they are offering free counseling to locals. Others have emailed people, some have contacted other local churches to offer counseling, and surely there are many more that have tried other things. Fellows may also have other recommendations for getting counselees and will likely be your best source for ideas since they are working with you individually.

Can I complete this phase even if I am not in the United States?

Yes! You may complete this process remotely. In fact, it is usually completed remotely even for those in the United States. You will be in contact with your supervisor through email and possibly phone.

Can my spouse and I counsel together for supervision?

No. ACBC does see great wisdom in team counseling, but for the purpose of certification, your supervisor must determine that you can bear the entire load of preparing for and conducting the counseling session. For the counseling case you submit for supervision, you should be the only counselor participating in the session. You may have an individual sit in on the sessions with you to gather data, but you must be leading and directing the session.

New Member/Renewals

What is required to become a new member or renew membership?

After the candidate has completed all the membership requirements the candidate must complete the final steps to become a certified member of ACBC and to renew membership annually. These requirements include:

  1. Signing the Membership Covenant
  2. Request a Pastor/Elder/Ecclesiastical Authority Form be completed on his behalf by his male Pastor, Elder, or Ecclesiastical authority
  3. Complete the Background Check Form (every 5 years)
  4. Pay the current annual membership dues

How do I get my membership renewal certificate?

On your Member Account page, there are two different ways that you can get your certificate. First, you may download a digital copy of your certificate at any time throughout the year by clicking on the “Generate Digital Certificate” button. This will provide you with a PDF copy for you to download/save/print, etc. Second, you may also request a physical copy to be sent to you. This option is only available during the Renewal Period (October through March). You may request the physical copy by clicking on the button, “Request Physical Certificate.” This request will be batched with other member requests at the beginning of each month and sent off to the print shop for processing and shipping. The address that your certificate will be sent to is your main account address under the “Update Contact Details” button on your account page. Please expect 6-8 weeks for delivery of physical certificate. (With the delays in shipping from USPS delivery make take longer).

What is the Membership Renewal period? When is the deadline for renewal?

Each year, the renewal period for membership opens up after the ACBC Annual Conference which always takes place on the first Monday through Wednesday of October. After the conference, you will then see the Membership Renewal section open up under your Member Account page. The deadline to complete all of the renewal steps is December 31. Beginning January 1st and until March 12th, you may complete the renewal process with an additional $25 Late Fee automatically applied.  After March 12th, any Member who has not completed the renewal process by the deadline automatically gets switched from Current to Expired member and will not be a Certified Biblical Counselor for that year.

What if I do not renew my membership by the deadline?

The status of any Member who has not completed the renewal process by the deadline automatically gets switched from Current to Expired member and will not be a Certified Biblical Counselor for that year. See the “Expired Member/Reinstatement” section below for questions about the reinstatement process.

Where can I purchase ACBC logo apparel?

You may click the following link to order ACBC logo apparel:  ACBC Apparel

Certified Membership

How do I change/update my details on the Find a Counselor Map?

In order to make yourself visible on the map, and to choose what information you provide on the map, you can log into your member account, click on the “Directory/Map Details” button and enter the information there. Changes to this information may take up to 24 hours to change on the Find-A-Counselor map.

What are the membership levels?

After you complete the certification process, you will become a certified biblical counselor and can renew your membership annually.
Level 1 – completed the certification process
Level 2 – Level 1 members who “have a theological degree” and “hold ordination to the pastoral office by a Christian church.”
Fellows – Level 2 members who have completed and passed Fellow applications, exam process, and supervision. For more information on becoming a Fellow, click here.

What are the benefits of being a Certified ACBC Member?

Where can I purchase ACBC logo apparel?

You may click the following link to order ACBC logo apparel:  ACBC Apparel

Expired Member/Reinstatement

How do I go about reinstating my membership?

Once you are ready to complete the membership steps (same as New member and Renewal), you can follow the Membership Reinstatement process on your Member Account page on the website. If you have been expired for less than two years, the process will be quicker, but if you have not been a member for two years or more, then your reinstatement request will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for a vote at their next scheduled quarterly meeting before being able to complete the rest of the reinstatement process and become a current member again.